I haven’t felt this broken in a long time. What happened early Sunday morning in Menomonie is sickening, and now my heart is literally aching inside my chest. I didn’t think that this would hit so close to home, and I never imagined that he would actually pass away.
Sunday morning, myself and other UW-Stout students received an email which included this message:
“The Menomonie Police Department is appealing to anyone in the UW-Stout community who might have information concerning a student who was assaulted early Sunday morning to report that information to authorities. Any information, even second hand, is potentially valuable.
The assault occurred in the 400 block of Main Street East in downtown Menomonie, near Topper’s Pizza, shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday. The student is from Saudi Arabia, and authorities are not releasing his name until family members can be contacted. He is being treated at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.
There are reports that the assailant is a white male, about 6 feet tall, who fled the scene after the incident.”
The part that stuck out to me immediately was “The student is from Saudi Arabia.” My thoughts immediately were, “This man was attacked because he’s from the middle east. He looks different and he may have a different religion, and that gives someone a ‘good’ reason to attack them.” I couldn’t stomach that then, and I still cannot understand it now.
Now, on Monday night, the UW-Stout campus and students received another email:
“It is with much sadness that I inform the campus that Hussain Saeed Alnahdi, 24, a junior majoring in business administration, passed away this afternoon from injuries suffered early Sunday morning during an assault in downtown Menomonie.
Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to Hussain’s family in Buraydah, Saudi Arabia, and his friends at UW-Stout.”
I am praying that this man was not attacked for his skin color or possible beliefs. The fact that it’s even a possibility today is the worst part.
The fact that we as a campus community are questioning whether or not this man was attacked over his skin or beliefs is so messed up. We desperately want to believe (and strive to make it possible) that our campus is a safe, loving, and accepting place for ALL students.
The fact of the matter is, I get to feel safer in Menomonie because I am a white Christian. With students of color or other beliefs, that is not the case a solid majority of the time.
Students of color feel marginalized and are constantly served reminders of what makes them different. Instances like this attack only increase the deep, immense, overwhelmingly REAL pain that people of color might already feel.
People with different religious beliefs are constantly ostracized and labeled. Muslims specifically tend to receive the brunt of this, being labeled as “terrorists,” or “radical Islamics.” This is why I am fearful to find out the reason(s) why this happened to Hussain.
I am privileged to not fully understand what these prejudices are like, though I wish in some cases that I could. Maybe I would know how to respond better.
I pray that his family can find peace, and rest in the fact that their son is no longer in pain. I pray that whoever did this is brought to justice and charged for the crimes they committed. I pray that if anyone knows anything at all, that they would come forward. I pray that this world would be changed. I pray that we could start to respond to our fears with kindness, curiosity, and respect. I pray that instead of violence and hate, we would use questions and honesty to understand one another.
Lord, I pray that you would come quickly, because we desperately need you here. At the same time I feel far away from you, I know you are here. You do your work in the midst of the ugly messes and the broken. You clothe us and give us something to eat when we need you the most. I pray that you would be present here on this campus, encouraging us to go forth and do your work: LOVING students of ALL kinds, colors, religions, orientations, etc. You have never once called your people to hatred and to cast the first stone.
Love God, Love People. There are no “if’s,” “and’s,” or “but’s,” about it. It’s a general statement, because it’s a statement that addresses everyone. Jesus’ love is for you, for me, for the cops, for the BLM movement, the LGBTQ community, the Trump supporters, the Hillary supporters, the people you love and the people you tend to hate.
Love God, Love People. We are ALL worthy, because He loves us.